Monday, May 19, 2008

The 2008 Bay to Breakers (aka, Bleeker Returns)

Last Sunday, I had the delight of joining ~80,000 revelers for the annual Bay to Breakers in San Francisco, CA. This 7.46-mile raging party through the streets of San Francisco bears it all (literally in some cases), making good on the race slogan “show me yours”. It did not disappoint!

I had a special running partner this year – my 21-month old daughter, Sophie. Her vocabulary is quite broad these days, and includes “balloon”, “dance”, “funny”, and “WANT IT!”, so I thought she might be ready for the sights and sounds of B2B. Mommy was out of town visiting friends, but encouraged me to don the Bleeker costume (from the Boston Marathon) once more and go have some fun.

I registered both of us, figuring Sophie might want a race bib for the scrapbook someday. My Dad recently stumbled upon a finisher certificate of mine for the 1979 Governor’s Run in Salem, OR (that would make me 10 years old at the time), complete with my hand-scrawled name in primary penmanship. Seeing it on the garage wall with other race numbers sparks fun memories of running down the streets of the State Capitol wondering if I could make it TWO WHOLE MILES. Especially since it’s right next to the Tahoe Rim Trail 100m race bib!

Sophie was in a great mood, considering I was waking her up at o-dark-thirty to ensure we parked the car at the end with enough time to get to the start. She was very excited to ride the bus, and launched right into “wheels on the bus go round and round” much to the other runners’ delight. The song turned into tears, however, when the bus shook and bounced across the SF hills. Sometimes those lyrics don’t translate well.

(The maids of B2B, complete with tortilla protectors)

(Sophie catches a flying tortilla - yummy!)

We packed into the start corral, where tortillas filled the air (throwing tortillas is one of many bizarre traditions at B2B). We were in the back corral with the walkers, floats, and centipedes (people running as one costume). The costumes were very impressive, from hula skirts to full-on Studio 54 dance platform with cage dancers. Bleeker was never going to stand out in this crowd. Sophie smiled and made friends, and hollered “MINE!” to any balloon that got within reach. The gun went off and the party moved forward!

(And we're off!)

Sophie smiled ear to ear as she took in all the sights. Her excitement was contagious, and I pulled her out of the stroller so we could watch it together. She clung tight, but kept oohing and aahing. It’s one of the great gifts of parenthood to see the world through a child’s eyes, making even the simple things all new and exciting. She even spotted a woman dressed as the painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Jan Vermeer, and said “Earring!”. I had forgotten this was in one of her favorite picture books, and she loved it!

(Artist Jan Vermeer adds a finishing touch on his masterpiece)

(Will work for beer)

At mile 1, I strapped her back in and picked up the pace a bit. I realized at a walking pace, we might not make the 11:15am cutoff at mile 6. How about that? Even in a fun run, I have to worry about cutoff times! We took the express lane on the left, passing bands, parties, the famous salmon running in the opposite direction, 13 naked people, a hoard of 20 Elvi (that’s plural for many Elvis), Oktoberfest, Vikings, a pack of pugs, and more. I even ran into a pack of Bleekers protecting their Juno! Great fun.

(A pack of Bleekers protect their Juno)

(Whoa! Nakedness prevails at B2B)

We took a small break at Hayes Hill (mile 2.5) for grapes, crackers, and water. Sophie loved the “Movin’ On Up” song playing at the top of the hill, and got out to get her groove on for a few minutes. A nice gentleman made her a balloon animal, and she was in heaven. A friend along the way had harassed me a bit for bringing her (“nice, Dunlap…good influence on the kids”), but it was like a circus. What could be bad? Just as the thought ran through my head, a naked man was showing a pack of people why it was important to have a cock ring linked to your Prince Albert hardware...and I mean a FULL demo. I’d show a picture, but that’s porno. The scary kind too. I will have nightmares for sure. ;-P

(Mini-Bleek dons her colors)

(Little Breaker sprints to the Conservatory)

With Sophie’s eyes averted (phew!), she jumped back in the stroller and we made our way towards Golden Gate park. We saw the most classic drinking booth (see video), and got some shave ice from the Hula Man.

Sophie wasn’t so sure about all the stopping, so I kicked it into gear and ran for 15 minutes. She locked eyes on the big inflatable Southwest Airlines plane and starting screaming “Airpane! Airpane!” at the top of her little lungs. We stopped so she could jump on the plane, play ball with some kids, meet Moose the Great Dane, and roll in the grass. Once she tuckered herself out, she crawled back into the stroller and promptly fell asleep for the rest of the race.

(Meshugga, the most hip orthodox jewish surf band ever)

I ran the last couple of miles, and we crossed the finish in 2:49:22, just a few minutes shy of my marathon time from two weeks ago. I figured Sophie could nap in the Beer Garden at Footstock (the end-of-race concert) while Daddy “rehydrated”, but no kids in the Garden this year. So we only stayed for a few minutes and made our way to the Cliff House for views, beer, and French toast. The place was packed with B2B runners doing the same. Gotta carb load, right? Or is that before a race…

(Post-race food at the Cliff House)

Sophie looked out the window at the ocean, pointed, and said “Daddy and Sophie go beach please” while tugging at my hand. Wha? Did I just hear that? I’m not sure what was more shocking – to hear her say a complete sentence like that, or the fact she said “please”. I packed up our stuff, and she pulled me to the beach with great fanfare.

(Sophie kickin' sand with her airpane)

As I watched her kick sand in the air and chase the seagulls, I got a lump in my throat that is becoming all too familiar lately. She is growing up so fast! I am constantly torn between wanting her to stay young and ever-curious, and excited for what she might say and do next as she progresses. On days like today, it feels like each minute is precious. I’m not sure if Sophie will remember any of it, but I have no doubt I will cherish it forever.


  1. Good for you for bringing the kid out - kids need a little "weird" sometimes, I think. Who knows what she'll remember about it...

    I did B2B back in 1999. I forgot all about the tortillas. Excellent.

  2. Very cute. That was nice of you to bring her along. If she's having this much fun now, perhaps she will be a runner when she's older.

    I wouldn't take her to your next race though. That is a lot of diapers you would have to bring.

  3. Scott,
    broke-down and bought the Roclite 295s. Good for anything 21-50k?

    You're a racing nut!
    Keep up the good work.

  4. Way cool man. My three daughters (ages 3, 4 and 7) ran across the finish with me at Massanutten this past weekend. daughtes definitely grow up way too fast.

  5. Hmm, maybe I'll have to consider pushing my kids across the Ohlone Wilderness for the 50 brutally hilly kilometers in a double stroller next year....

    Since you've done this Bleaker thing twice now, I guess I should see I guess I could google it, huh? I think I've seen fewer movies in the past 3 years since our first kid was born than I used to in 3 months.

  6. Matt -

    Congrats on the 295's! I train in them regularly, and have run them up to 50 miles with no issues. Other Team Inov-8 runners have taken them the full 100, so they are battle tested!

    The 295's are a bit more pliable than the 320's, so I like to train in them to use more of my foot muscles. Plus they drain super-fast.


  7. Oh goodness, those bare booty runners NEED to cover up. Yikes!

    Your daughter is a little beauty, Scott. :) They DO grow fast. Enjoy every single minute.

  8. Awesome, Scott, all those Bleekers I saw in person on the run reminded me of you. I would often think "Oh, they didn't go far enough and do the tube-sock thing like Scott." I should had my daughter do this race with me this year too! I let go of any "time goals" so it would have been a perfect opportunity.

  9. Fun, entertaining report as always Scott. Your daughter is adorable. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing your running stories with us. Because of you and your blog, I became interested in trail running and just finished my first ultra this past weekend (Ohlone 50k). Thanks for the inspiration! Good luck at Mt Diablo.

    - Mike

  10. I figured you would have done Bay to Breakers again this year. Right-on with breaking out the Bleeker outfit. You did remember to wash it after Boston, right? :-D

    Sophie is getting so big! What are you gonna do when boys start calling the house!? (You KNOW it's gonna happen.)

  11. Ooooh, that sounds fun. I'd like to partake!

    Change that..

    I WILL partake!! :)

  12. I've read along for a year now - finished my first 50 miler (North Country in Michigan), and enjoyed the rolling and raving commentaries. I was just sadly wondering last weekend when and if you were going to include your familiy in one of these... You never fail to deliver!

    My daughter just turned 3 - they do grow fast and pull at your heart some times. This was my favorite post - I'm going to share it with my Middle School Science class tomorrow (I showed them video of the South African amputee sprinter from Rome 2007 today). Your post will be a bit different (and I may preface it a bit more, and only show the pictures)...

    Great stuff, keep it coming,

    Michigan Roach

  13. Mike - Congrats on Ohlone! If you can survive that hilly course on a hot year like this one, your next ultra will be a piece of cake. Nice work!

    Dave - you definitely have a Bay to Breakers in your future, and a few more "required" ultras for anyone headed to Berkeley. Bring the stroller. :-)

    Roach - I am extremely flattered. If you need higher rez photos of naked people, just let me know. Middle school kids don't see enough ass dimples if you ask me.

    Thx for your comments!


  14. Ass dimples. I was thinking the same thing when I saw that photo. Nice!

  15. Only in California. You guys are freakin nuts.

  16. Fantastic report man! I may just have to sign up one of these years.

    Oh, and your girl's absolutely adorable.

  17. Wow... that was absolutely amazing! great thing to expose her to the wonders of running and racing for fun right from the start. I got smiles and chills reading that... unusual but incredibly sweet race report

  18. Wow, it is so cool that you brought your daughter along for the race. Yes, someday that experience will be so awesome for her to look back on. I really enjoy your accounts of your running adventures!

  19. hello - just stumbled across your blog - while trying to find a list of races in vegas. i'm going to be in vegas for a few days around the weekend of june 14th - and thought it might be fun to do a short race if there was one going on while i was out there - i can't seem to find anything though - do you know of any - in the area that weekend? thanks!

  20. Thanks!

    I don't know of any Las Vegas races around that time, but you can check with the Las Vegas Track Club. They might have a training event too.


  21. Hey Scott, love your B-2-B reports. As a sub-seeded runner, I miss out on all those antics. Last year you were the star, this year Sophie triumphs. I'm sure she'll survive -- kids can handle that stuff a lot better than many adults. Your shot last year of the Bare-2-Breakers runners disrobing was great, looks like fun, may have to join them sometime after I clinch my PR goal. Keep your reports coming! Scott

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